Christine Fair, a security affairs professor at Washington’s Georgetown University, has written extensively on Pakistan’s powerful army. Her new book, “Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War,” analyzes the ideological culture of the country’s security establishment.
In an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Malali Bashir, Fair said Pakistan’s army exploits its image of a failing nuclear state to attract sustained international aid.
RFE/RL: Tell us, what exactly is the Pakistan army’s way of war?
Christine Fair: The Pakistan army is more like an international insurgent. It doesn’t have to defeat India, it only has to prevent India from being able to exert its will on the subcontinent. When I would read articles from Pakistan’s defense literature, they would talk about Pakistan as the only country that can resist India’s rise. Pakistan’s army has a belief that it’s not only supposed to protect Pakistan’s physical and geographical boundaries, but also its ideological boundaries.
RFE/RL: Pakistan is often described as a failed state. Why then would its powerful military interfere in Afghanistan and compete with India?
Fair: Pakistan is not a failed state. It is not a failing state, and it’s not a state that will fail. Pakistan is actually very stable. Pakistan’s military takes basically all the resources that it wants and needs, and invests those resources into the security competition with India. And that’s how it is able to draw in the international community–because India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons, and the international community is very afraid that whenever there is any conflict that it might escalate, either deliberately or inadvertently, into nuclear use.
So, this constantly creates the belief that this is an area of the world that the international community cannot abandon. The army also exploits its internal security problems to draw in international aid and international effort by basically threatening to fail. And the international community feels that Pakistan is too dangerous to fail. So by cultivating this insecurity, the military is able to ensure a near-incessant lifeline, as funds from the international community keep the rest of the state literally on life support.